Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts

Unfair Consumer Contract Terms - Just Say No

Beware Consumer Contract Fraud

- Contracts and the Law and You and the Judge -

A short, cautionary note. Unethical contracts are the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen Without a Gun).


"But, your honor!?!" I said to the judge...

Judge, “You signed a contract.”

Me, “You mean that paragraph at the bottom of the application form?”

Judge, “Yes.”

Me, “But every bank in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “What clause?”

Me, “The sentence that says I’ve read and agreed to their charter; that I’ve read and agreed to all their bylaws; that I’ve read and agreed to all their rules and regulations. All of that stuff would be a stack of paper from the floor to the ceiling; and they wouldn’t even have copies at the branch for me to read anyway.”

Judge, “I know. But anything you sign is a contract.” (He is right of course.)

Me, “But every financial institution in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “I know.”

Me, “But if we don’t sign, we can’t get a checking account, savings account, credit card account or loan anywhere!”

Judge, “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

Me, “What do I owe?”

Judge, “Well, let’s see what they made up... Yep, that’s what you owe.”


The above story is fictional, but versions of it happen in real life thousands of times every month. That is why I never do business with national banks or credit card companies. Finding a local credit union is the only way to go; they have versions of the same clause, but most of them are not thieves (see referenced article).

Needless to say, unethical consumer contracts don't just apply to national banks. In fact, there are credit card companies out there that are 10 times worse than any bank. Cable companies are another example, which is one reason why customers are leaving them in droves. Some cellphone carriers are also less than scrupulous, their contracts sometime include a clause stating you have to pay them even when they don't provide the agreed upon services. And then there is the worst of the worst, otherwise known as private sector contracts having to do with anything medical.

Rants, Warnings, Alerts About Consumer Contracts

  • You have no civil rights when you blindly give them away by signing a multi-page, fine print contract without reading it. This happens all the time. The days of trusting an entity just because they are a large corporation or an established business are long gone. This is especially applicable as to credit card companies, medical entities, financial institutions, auto repair entities, and pretty much any and all other service-related entities. Corporate greed is the rule, not the exception.
  • Read the contract. If it’s too long for you to read and understand at the time, don’t sign it. If any of the print is too small for you to read, don’t sign it. If there is anything in it you don’t like or understand, don’t sign it. If it's incomplete, don't sign it. If you don't know what you are doing, don't sign it.
  • By definition anything you sign is a contract; whether it be just a single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or a hundred page document. Whenever someone tries to get you to sign something, it is for their benefit, not yours.
  • Reading a contract will give you an education; not reading a contract will give you an “adventure”.
  • Unethical contracts and incompetent/unethical civil laws victimize more people than all legally defined criminal activity combined. It is the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen without a Gun).

Beware Contracts

About Class Action Lawsuits

A class action lawsuit can result when a significant number of consumers have been victimized. Sometimes the company made an honest mistake, a defective product for example. Many times, however, class action lawsuits can result from SWAG consumer contracts or other behavior so egregious that it can't be covered up anymore. Personally, I think some of these cases should be in criminal court as opposed to civil court. If you happen to notice a class action lawsuit you are eligible to join as a member, you might as well sign up for it. You may not get much in the way of compensation, but at least you will get something.

Legal note: I am not an attorney, but one does not have to be a thief to recognize a theft.

Side note: The thief/theft reference is in regards to contracts. Any attorney or legal firm who specializes in defending/protecting/helping consumers and patients are welcome to post links to their websites in the comments section below. Any attorney or legal firm doing consumer-related or patient-related class action lawsuits are also definitely welcome to post relevant links.

How to Save Money on Food and Other Groceries - A List

Saving Money on Food Is Easier Than One Thinks

Also a note about food government benefits during hard times. And also a math note.


Coupons and Websites

  • Yes, do use those coupons; the Sunday paper and your junk mail will give you all you need. Also drop by your main grocery store’s website and see what they have to say for themselves; more often than not, they will have additional digital coupons you can use where you simply enter your phone number at the checkout register to collect.

Generic Brands

  • Yes, do buy the generic store brands. It is common knowledge they cost less. What isn’t so well known is that more often than not they are made by the same manufacturer as the nationally labeled brands that cost up to twice as much.

Product Shelf Positioning

  • Make it a point to look at the top and bottom shelves. The middle shelves are where the high markup items are.

Unit Pricing

  • Do make it a habit to routinely check the unit pricing. No rocket surgeon degree required; the unit price is right below or beside the sale price. There will be at least one occasion every trip where it will affect your decision as to what to buy. Does your store not conveniently display the unit pricing? If so, then find another store. Also, you may be surprised to learn the larger sizes do not always represent the best unit pricing. Stores are sneaky that way, knowing that consumers automatically assume the larger size is the better deal.

Product Store Positioning and Impulse Buying

  • Never buy anything displayed at the register and checkout line. Those are what is known as spontaneous purchases and impulse items and always have the highest markup. Always bring a shopping list. It will cut down on your spontaneous impulse buying immensely. And while we are at it, never shop hungry.

Don't Pay for Unneeded Labor

  • Never buy premade sandwiches or other items requiring extra preparation in the deli section. The prices are highway robbery and are for people who are taking their lunch break from work, etc. If the sandwich looks delicious, then just buy the same filling from that same deli instead. This assumes you are willing enough to take the contents from the container and put between two slices of bread yourself. Chicken salad and egg salad are good examples. Doing this will usually save you between $2 to $3 per sandwich. And save the containers, they can repeatedly be used for freezing and storing leftovers.

Stock Up on Non-Perishable Sale Items

  • Prices can vary by as much as 50% from week to week. Tissues are an excellent example of this. Canned goods are another excellent example. Some juices also have long expiration dates.

Check Your Receipt for Double Billing

  • It happens a lot more often than you think. It usually happens because either the cashier doesn’t like you or the scanner sensor is dirty. And checking the receipt really is easier than you think; even a long receipt takes less than a minute to quickly glance through. At minimum, at least check the higher priced items. When you find something (and you inevitably will), simply return to the same register and tell them. They will refund your money on the spot.

Never Set Your Wallet on the Counter at the Checkout

  • Sooner or later, you will inevitably forget and leave it there when you walk out of the store. It won't always still be there when you go back for it.

Fewer Trips

  • Every trip you make to the store probably costs you between $2 to $4 in gas. Try to organize to make fewer trips.


Government Food Benefits

Btw, Food Stamps aka CalFresh aka SNAP benefits are used by millions of Americans. If your financial situation is truly grim, it is worth investigating.

Government Websites to Get Started

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/apply
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility


And last, but not least...

It Pays to Do Basic Math - A True Story

I actually saw this happen several years ago.

A parent and teenager are in a store. The store is having a candy sale. There are two different-sized boxes of chocolate cream candies on display. There is the 12-oz. box for $4.95. There is the 1-lb, 2-oz. box for $12.95. There is some dialogue. Then the teenager selects the one-pound-plus box saying something to the effect that, "The larger box is the better buy."

The parent says something to the effect, “I am really worried about your math skills.”

I kid you not, I really saw this happen. And one can tell by the prices that it was indeed many, many years ago.

Here are what I believe their respective thought processes were.

The parent: “Hmm, $5 for 12 ounces is equal to $10 for 24 ounces. The $10 for 24 ounces is better than the $13 for 18 ounces.” Parent chooses two of the smaller boxes.

The teenager: “The larger box will have the better per-unit price.” Teenager doesn’t consider doing any calculations. Teenager chose the larger box. The equivalent of this  is probably still happening a million times a day nationwide. The retail stores are fully aware that our education system isn't what it used to be.

And while we are at it and on a separate note, there are also some small store owners who are equally aware of this education fact when is comes to charging sales tax.

Grocery Store Food Discrimination - A Commentary

Grocery store and supermarket chains discriminate against single people, divorced people, senior citizens, and anyone else who happens to live alone. Unless we are buying groceries for a family, the national chain grocery stores apparently don't want to bother with us. Or if they do, it looks like they want to charge us extra for the privilege.

Grocery store discrimination against senior citizens, singles, divorced, and anyone else who lives alone.

Having to buy four or five units of the same food item in order to get the discount sale price really does discriminate against singles, senior citizens, and other people who live alone. Only families can benefit from the use of this particular sales and marketing practice.

I’ve noticed this sales tactic is becoming more and more prevalent lately. Figured it was time to say something about it.

There really are very few people living alone who can make use of four boxes of crackers, five bottles of soda, four cans of tuna, and so forth.

And this buy-4-items and buy-5-items requirement to get various discounts is spreading to staple items. It is no longer limited to the more “frivolous” purchases.

In all fairness, it should be noted the grocery stores and supermarket chains doing this are not doing it to deliberately discriminate against singles, senior citizens, etc. They are doing this for the same reason they do all their other sales tactics; the purpose being to increase sales and maximize profits. Nothing wrong with that; that is capitalism.

The resulting discrimination against certain classes of people is simply the unintended consequence. Basically, it's called collateral damage. Oh well, such is life.

How to Save Money on College / University Textbooks - Bookstore Alternatives

Updated for Year 2019

Text Book Buying and Renting Tips and Tricks Guide for Saving Money on School Books

How to and Where to Buy School and College Textbooks for Cheap and Save Money
Bookstore Alternatives


Spending Money on Textbooks

Everyone is pretty much fed-up with the extortionist pricing practices of college textbook publishers. Fortunately, more and more textbook buying alternatives are becoming available to combat this. This page will cover the various textbook buying options that are available to you. Renting textbooks is also discussed. And there are a few useful links here and there.

Saving Money on Textbooks

Buying New Hardcover

For subjects relating directly to your major, you probably want to buy a new, combined hardcover and DVD. You will want to keep the textbook, both as a reference and for the memories. Regretfully, this does limit your choices.

You will find a wide disparity in textbook pricing. In addition to checking the bookstore price; it would be wise to check the textbook prices from at least two other random vendors. Note the exact title, author, publishing date, and ISBN. You will also want to note the used textbook price for reference purposes. If you are early enough, you might find an unmarked-up copy; it happens. Find out the textbook buyback price while you are at it; however, there are no guarantees that the price will still be the same at the end of the semester.

Go to your search engine and enter: ISBN "0-395-62883-0" price. Substitute your ISBN and be sure it’s in quotes. Be very sure to look beyond the first page of results. The wide disparity in textbook prices will become apparent, both new and used. You will also begin to get a good idea as to who are the better sellers. Do this for all your ISBN’s.

Buying Used Hardcover

There are lots of options here.

Most of the information described in “Textbooks: Buying New” also applies to buying used.

Check out all bulletin boards. This includes the bookstore, cafeteria(s), the building where your class is located, the department building for your class subject, libraries, dorms, and even student-favored local shops and stores. Also check if there are any textbook related local online bulletin boards.

Track down the instructor. Does the instructor have extra copies? Does the instructor have any advice?

Network, ask around; everyone is talking about textbook prices and availability anyway. Find out what information is out there. Especially do this as you are going around checking the bulletin boards.

Buying Electronic/Digital

Your textbook may be available digitally. Most of the information above applies here as well.
  • Do a search for: ebook textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook ebook.
  • Do a search for: online textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook online.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have an eBook Section yet? Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the reader.

Renting Textbooks

Renting is an option for many textbooks. Be sure to check the pricing from more than one vendor.
  • Do a search for: textbook rent.
  • Do a search for: rent textbook.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have a Rental Section or option yet?

A Note:

There are media reports about on-campus theft problems. Never leave your textbooks or other belongings unattended.

Consumer Information Websites List and More - Includes Dot Com Boom & Bust Era

Updated for 2019

This is rather a unique list. In addition to the current useful resources, there are also a lot of companies and other resources from the infamous boom & bust dot com era; it is is interesting what some of those companies are up to these days. I do my best to keep this page current; if a broken link does show up, please let me know via the comments section below. Also, an important security note: if "https" is not available, it would be wise to not go there.


Resource Description - Worthy Consumer Resources
JDpower Consumer product information.
ConsumersReview Consumers Review listings and reviews.
ConsumerReports Consumer product information. Free and fee based service.
RipOffReport Consumer complaints about specific entities.
cnet Consumer tech product information.
wisebread Living large on a small budget.
SalesCircular Best current deals at retail stores.
FatWallet Advance info on sales.
SlickDeals Deals info.



Resource Description
gifts Intelligent directory of products.
LetsTalk Compare cell-phone plans.
WorthGuide ebay ref guide for merchandise value.
AuctionGuild Industry watchdog. Useful info.
PayPal Reputable online payment service.
CraigsList Online classified ads. Be careful here.


Resource Description - Worthy Consumer Resources
Credit Union Nat'l Association Locate a credit union near you.
DoNotCall Federal telemarketer Do-Not-Call list.
AnnualCreditReport Legit free credit reports site.
SmartMoney All sorts of useful info.
DealMine Discount aggregator and cross-reference site.
GetHuman Dealing with Corporate America by phone.
iHateDebt Dealing with debt problems. Information, free and fee.
travelaxe Directory. Compare hotel prices.
hotels Compare hotel prices.
BBB Better Business Bureau.
CreditUnionsOnline Locate a local credit union.
Quotesmith Online insurance quotes.
Insurance Panda Online insurance quotes.
BankRate Interest rates comparison.
HSH Associates Mortgage rate information, more.
Insure.com News, company fin'l info, more.
SampleSale Clothing & housewares sales list, more.
Consumer World Information.
ConsumerProAssoc Information and many links.
epinions Information and many links.
FTC Federal Trade Commission.
C.I.C. Federal Consumer Information Catalog.
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Books/Mags Description
amazon All.
barnesandnoble All.
half All. Owned by ebay.
abebooks All.
magazinepricesearch Price comparisons.
studentbookworld New text books.
campusbooks Text books. Connects buyers/sellers, new/used, more.
collegebooksdirect Text books. Buy/sell used.
textbookrevolution.org Student run. Free educational materials.
librarything Organizational resource.

Resource Description
Junk Busters Stop telephone solicitors, junk mail, more.
Scam Busters Information.
spamlinks .net Spam track & trace.
C.A.U.C.E. Anti-spam site.
N.S.I. Scam alerts and information.
N.F.I.C. The National Fraud Information Center.
ic3 Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Nolo Legal self help, more.
lawyers Legal info, more.

Resource All Things Real Estate....
Fannie Mae Foreclosed homes, much more....
Freddie Mac HomeSteps. Foreclosed homes, much more....
MoveUp Research home value.
HomeAdvisor Houses, Apts, Neighborhood research.
HomeShark Info on buying a home, more.
APBnews Crime info by zipcode, more.
IRED Directory of real estate websites, more.
AllApartments All things apartment related.
SpringStreet All things apartment related.